Pregnancy
Menstrual Cycle Week 1 Day 5

This cross-section through the ovary shows several ovarian follicles. Between each follicle, the connective tissue can be seen. Each month about 15–20 follicles mature, but it is usually only one that will fully mature and release an egg.

Making some lifestyle changes is essential when you’re trying for a baby, and cutting down on alcohol is a good start.

Even though it’s still the week of your period, and some time before you ovulate, try to ensure you’re in the best possible health to maximize fertility. One way to do this is to cut down your alcohol intake.

Heavy drinking can reduce the chances of conceiving and, if you do get pregnant, it can also affect your unborn baby’s development. There is plenty of evidence that drinking beyond the recommended amounts is harmful. What’s lacking, however, is evidence of the effects on conception and pregnancy of the occasional alcoholic drink, perhaps one or two glasses of wine once or twice a week. However, many women decide to err on the side of caution and stop drinking alcohol altogether while trying to conceive and in early pregnancy. Some find that morning sickness naturally puts them off alcohol.

Alcohol also affects male fertility, because it has adverse effects on the quantity and quality of sperm produced, and drinking large amounts can cause men to become impotent.

However, you may find an alcoholic drink helps you and your partner relax and puts you in the mood for sex, thereby increasing your chances of conception, so don’t feel guilty about having the occasional glass of your favourite tipple.

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Opt for non-alcoholic drinks if you’re trying to have a baby. A high intake of alcohol can adversely affect your chances of conceiving.

Illicit or “street drugs” can harm your unborn baby.

You should try to stop using drugs before you conceive. However, if you regularly use drugs, or find it hard to manage without them, it is essential to get medical support. Ask your doctor for advice. He or she will be able to help and put you in touch with a support group.

Before you try to conceive, speak to your doctor about the following tests:

  • Rubella: have a blood test to check you have antibodies against rubella (German measles). Being infected by the rubella virus for the first time in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of the baby developing an abnormality, as well as increasing the risk of miscarriage. If you were vaccinated against rubella as a child, your antibody level may be high enough to protect your baby. If it isn’t high enough, you’ll be offered an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) jab and advised not to conceive for three months.

  • Sexually transmitted infections: go to a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic for tests to rule out infections such as chlamydia, genital warts, and herpes. You may also want to consider having an HIV test. Women with HIV can still bear children, but may be prescribed a drug to reduce the chances of passing the infection to their child. A Caesarean may be recommended.

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